Monday, September 30, 2013

Sweet Potato Patties (Yam Latkes/Cakes)

Love at first bite! I was trying to make something different and delicious with my supply of sweet potatoes for the family -  Sweet Potato Patties are quick as well as uncomplicated; I made them in a matter of minutes.  Serve them anytime any way you like: although they are fantastic on their own, they are marvelous served with green and sweet chutneys and a garnish of chopped onions, tomato chutney, or apple sauce and sour cream!

Rice flour, Besan (garbanzo bean flour), Mung bean flour, Asafetida (hing), turmeric, etc are available at Indian markets.

Sweet Potato Patties

About 12 - 14 Patties

Ingredients:

4 cups grated Sweet Potatoes/yams (about 3 or 4)
1/2 small Red Onion, minced
1/2 small Bell Pepper (Capsicum) minced
1 large handful Basella or Spinach, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, grated
1 bunch Cilantro, chopped
1 pinch Hing
1 generous pinch Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste
1/2 cup Rice flour
1/2 cup Besan/Mung bean flour

About 2 Tbsp Oil for cooking

Method:

Combine the veggies, herbs, salt, spices, and flours in a mixing bowl.

Knead to mix well; you may need a little sprinkle or two of water to moisten the veggies. The dough should be solid but soft enough to form into patties easily.

Form into palm-sized patties and cook on a griddle or skillet with a few drops of oil until golden brown on both sides on medium low heat; it should take about 3 to 4 minutes per side so that the patties are cooked through. They should be slightly crispy on the edges.

Transfer to a paper towel lined plate; continue cooking the rest of the mixture.

Serve hot.  Enjoy!!
Sweet Potato Patties

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thattai (Savory Rice & Lentil Crackers)

Thattais are traditional South Indian snacks made with rice and dal. They are part of the Bakshanam category of crispy snack foods which are similar to crackers. These are easy to prepare snacks that do not require any fancy equipment.

In the olden days, if people wanted to eat they had to prepare the food themselves; one did not (or could not even if they wanted to) buy ready-made snacks. So the elder ladies of the house gathered together to prepare savory snacks for the family. The best part of thattai making was the last batch of half-cooked Thattais - slightly crispy but still chewy - how we savored those special treats!

Amma made thattais often and stored them in stoneware crocks for morning tea or coffee or after-school snacks. Thattais are eaten plain by themselves; they do not require any accouterments. Rice flour, besan, urad flour, etc are readily available in Indian markets. Earth Balance is a vegan butter substitute.

The traditional flours for making thattais are rice and urad; but I like to use different flours and the corresponding dals for a change of pace.  Sometimes I use mung dal flour and yellow mung dal instead of the urad flour and chana dal;  other times I substitute besan for the urad flour. All are good but slightly different. Skinless uncooked peanuts may be substituted for the soaked dal. Sometimes thinly sliced hot green chiles are added to the dough for a spicy thattai.

Thattais get gobbled up quickly; the recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Thattais With Mung Flour & Mung Dal

20 Thattais

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 cup Rice flour
2-3 Tbsp Urad dal flour
1 Tbsp Sesame Seeds
1 pinch Asafetida
1/4 tsp ground hot red chiles
3/4 tsp Sea Salt
2 Tbsp grated Coconut
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, chiffonade
1 tbsp coconut oil or Earth Balance Spread

Oil for deep frying

Method:

Soak the chana dal in hot water for about an hour.

Bring 1/2 cup of water to a boil and add the salt; let it dissolve and cool.

Combine the flours with the coconut oil or Earth Balance until well mixed.

Add the sesame, thoroughly drained dal, asafetida, chile, coconut, and curry leaves.

Pour the salt water (do not add any undissolved salt) into the dry ingredients and form a dough adding additional water (in tiny sprinkles) if necessary to form a pliable dough but not too soft.

Rinse a clean tea towel or a piece of muslin cloth, wring out thoroughly, and spread on the counter top or table. Alternately, use a plastic sheet.

Divide the dough into 20 small balls, and press into thin circles on the towel/plastic sheet without touching each other.

I place the dough balls about 2 to 3 inches apart and using a piece of cling film press with my fingers to flatten them to slightly less than the thickness of the dals in them. Using the cling film helps to flatten the thattais quickly as it prevents the dough from sticking to the fingers; you may use food safe gloves also.

Using a fork. tooth pick, or a thin skewer, prick the thattais in a few spots.

Heat a kadai or pan with oil for deep frying on medium low heat.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, remove the dough circles carefully and slip into the oil gently; 4 or 5 might fit nicely without crowding the oil depending on the size of the pan.

Keep the heat medium-low so that the thattais do not brown too fast; it should take about 3 to 4 minutes total for each batch to become crisp.  Cook the thattais until golden and flip to cook the other side.

Remove from oil when the bubbling and noise subside and thattais turn golden.

Drain on paper towels and allow to cool; thattais will become crisp as they cool.

When completely cool, store in an airtight container.

Thattais will last for about 3 weeks - only if you hide away a few :) to bring out later!

Serve with generous mugs of  tea, coffee or other beverages.  Enjoy!!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Corn & Cucumber Salsa Salad

Juicy and crunchy, this simple and easy relish can do double duty as salsa as well as salad!  We love to top our tostadas and tacos with it; delicious with Pulav or other rice or Mexican inspired dishes too.

 Corn-Cucumber Salsa/Salad

I have used the following veggies for their color as well as taste; other combinations may be used according to availability and preference; zucchini, jicama, green onions, and multi-hued cherry tomatoes are great possibilities.  More hot peppers may be added for a spicy salsa/salad. Persian or English cucumbers do not need peeling.

Ingredients:

1 medium Red Onion
1 or 2 Limes
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 small Carrots, grated
2 cups Corn cut off the cob, fresh or frozen
3 Persian or 1 English Cucumbers
4 medium Tomatoes
1 Red, Yellow, or Orange Bell Pepper
1 Each, Mild and Hot Green Chiles
1 large bunch fresh Cilantro

Method:

Finely chop the red onion and place in a large bowl; add the juice from one lime and a couple of pinches of the salt.

Add the grated carrots.

Finely chop the rest of the veggies and herbs and add to the onions.

Add the rest of the salt and taste.  Add more salt and lime juice if needed and mix well.

Serve with tortilla or corn chips, Beans and tortillas, BurritosTostada, Tacos, etc. Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Easy Burritos For A Weeknight

Scrambled Tofu, cooked kidney beans, and Pumpkin Peperonata contributed to these awesome burritos. As you can see, any and all leftovers can be put to good use without sacrificing good taste!

Scrambled Tofu Burritos

Note: If you are not serving the burritos right away, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and chill until needed. Bring to room temperature or unwrap and warm them. Serve hot at room temperature with a side of your favorite salsa. 

2 - 4 Servings

4 Whole Wheat Tortillas
1 ripe Avocado
Salsa I or II to serve

Warm the tortillas until they are pliable; if they are not warm, they will break when rolled.

Warm the fillings and keep them in separate bowls.

Peel and cut the avocado into slices.

Place each tortilla on a plate or cutting board and add 1/4th portion of each of the filling ingredients; roll up tightly and cut in half. Allow 2 or 3 pieces per person.

Serve immediately with some salsa. Enjoy!!

Scrambled Tofu, Pumpkin Peperonata, & Kidney Bean Burritos

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Payar Curry (Mung Bean Stew Kerala Style)

This mild, delicious and easy to make stew is the perfect paired with aapams, dosa, rice or roti. They are pretty fabulous as a thick soup too.  If you like a hot and spicy curry, add more chiles. 

Payar (Mung Bean) Curry
Ingredients:

1 cup Whole Mung Beans
2 Tbsp Coriander seeds
1 dry hot Red or fresh Green Chiles (optional)
4 Tbsp grated Coconut, fresh/frozen
2 Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 two inch piece Cinnamon bark
3-5 Whole Cloves
1 green Cardamom, crushed
1 large Onion
2 Tbsp fresh Ginger, finely minced
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 Tbsp ground Coriander seeds
2 tsp ground Fennel seeds
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Coconut Milk
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves
1 tsp Coconut Oil

Method:


Pick over the mung beans, wash, and soak for about 4 hours or overnight. Drain, rinse, and cook in water to cover until soft. Alternately, cook in a pressure cooker.

While the beans are cooking, toast the coriander seeds and the chiles if using, in a dry skillet. When they are fragrant, remove from heat and stir in the coconut and stir until golden brown. Remove to a plate - otherwise the spices and coconut will keep cooking from the heat remaining in the skillet. Let cool.

Blend the coconut mixture with a little water until smooth; add the tomatoes and process until pureed.

Heat oil in a large pan and cook the whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom) until fragrant, a few seconds.

Stir in the bay leaf, onions, and ginger; add a pinch of salt  along with the turmeric and cook covered until onions are translucent.  Stir often to prevent burning.

Sprinkle the ground coriander and fennel and stir for about a minute over low heat.

Pour the ground coconut-tomato puree, cover and cook until sauce is bubbling; simmer for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally.

Tip the beans with their cooking liquid into the sauce, stir well, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

Pour in the coconut milk and heat through.

Remove from heat, add the crushed curry leaves and a drizzle of coconut oil on top.  Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Serve hot with aapams, rice/roti, dosa, etc.

Payar Curry With Pumpkin Peperonata and Jasmine Rice

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Pumpkin Peperonata (Pumpkin & Peppers)

My veggie bin was the inspiration for this dish; I had a piece of pumpkin (Cascabel), red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, and red onions. And lots of cilantro. The perfect combination of veggies for a delicious peperonata. It turned out so fabulous, Paji has become an avid pumpkin buyer to the point that I was joking that he should have been named Peter after the pumpkin loving nursery rhyme character :)!

Silliness aside, the combination of sweet pumpkins with the tangy tomatoes is tongue tingling and tasty.  The touch of jaggery is not needed if the pumpkins are sweet. And cilantro adds that final crowning touch that only its inimitable flavor can add.  If you like a hot and spicy dish, a pinch or two of hot dried crushed chiles or fresh green chiles may be added along with the onions.

Although each type contributes its own characteristic flavor, Pumpkin Peperonata is just as delicious made with other pumpkins/winter squashes such as banana squash, butternut, kabocha, etc. It is delicious served with rice, roti or any bread. So here you have it, pumpkin peperonata!

Pumpkin Peperonata

Ingredients:

1/2 small Pumpkin, sliced
1 Onion, chopped
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
1 pinch asafetida
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
3 Assorted Bell Peppers, sliced
2 Tomatoes, cored and cut into thick slivers
1 stem fresh Curry Leaves, crushed
1 Tbsp Jaggery or brown sugar (optional)
1 small bunch Cilantro, chopped

Method:


Heat a kadai or wok; add the oil and cumin.  Cook over medium heat for a few seconds until the cumin starts to sizzle and is fragrant.

Stir in the asafetida, then the onions along with the curry leaves, turmeric and a little of the salt; stir well, cover, and cook over low heat until onions are translucent.

Add the pumpkin along with the rest of the salt and the jaggery if using, stir, and cook covered for about 10 minutes or until the pumpkin begin to soften.

Tip the peppers and tomatoes into the pan, stir well, cover and cook until tomatoes are hot and softened. about 5 minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the veggies sit covered for a few minutes.

Stir in the cilantro and serve hot.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fava: Greek Red Lentil/Mung Bean Puree

Fava With Veggies & Chips

Red Lentils are considered gentlest on the digestive system as well as anti-inflammatory of all the members of the legume (bean/lentil) family; they are often recommended on Ayurvedic diets. Next in line for its gentle and anti-inflammatory qualities is another favorite - Mung beans! So I decided to try red lentils/mung beans to prepare Fava, a popular puree from Greece instead of the harder to digest yellow split peas. I should think that red lentils/mung beans should work just as well ... a bean is a bean, right? 

Both red lentils and yellow mung beans make a lovely Fava. The other best thing :) about red lentils or mung is that they cook very quickly - in about 20 to 30 minutes - as opposed to the yellow split peas, fava beans, or chick peas which take as much as an hour or more. Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting to totally eliminate them from the diet; they are just not on our anti-inflammatory diet for now. Chick peas are not the only bean used to prepare purees in the Mediterranean region; yellow split peas and fava beans are also favorites. Mung beans work quite well also.

Fava may be served as a dip to scoop with raw veggies and tortilla or corn chips, or as a sandwich filling just like hummus. The Greeks add a garnish of chopped raw onions on top, but my favorite is caramelized onions; yum!

Ingredients:

1 cup Red Lentils/Yellow Mung dal
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil + more for drizzling
2 large Shallots or 1 small Red Onion, chopped
1 Bay Leaf
1 clove Garlic
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
2 - 3 Tbsp Fresh Dill leaves (optional)
Lemon wedges for serving
1/4 medium Red Onion, finely chopped for serving
Sumac, cayenne, or freshly ground pepper to sprinkle

Method:

Pick over the lentils/dal, wash well.

Heat the 1 Tbsp oil in a pan and cook the onions and garlic with a pinch of salt, bay leaf, turmeric, and freshly ground pepper until softened.

Stir in the lentils/dal and two and a half cups of water; bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes stirring often so they do not burn. Add a little hot water if the lentils are drying out.

When the lentils are done, keep covered and cool slightly. Fish out the bay leaf and discard. Drain excess liquids and reserve.

Transfer while still warm to a blender or food processor bowl fitted with the metal blade.

Process until smooth adding as much of the cooking liquid to get the right consistency; check for seasoning and add salt or pepper if needed.

Transfer to a container and cover tightly; refrigerate when cool until serving.

Spoon Fava into a serving dish, drizzle with a squirt of lemon juice, a little olive oil and sprinkle the onions on top; dust with a little sumac, cayenne or pepper.

Serve with pita wedges or other bread, raw veggies, chips or crackers.  Fava is good as a spread for bread too!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Aapams/Hoppers (Rice and Coconut Pancakes)

Aapams
Aapams, also known as hoppers, are delicate pancakes with crisp, lacy edges and a spongy soft center. They are traditional breakfast or brunch fare in Kerala, other neighboring states of India and Sri Lanka. Served with sweetened coconut milk, mild stews or spicy curries, aapams make a delectable repast; the spongy aapams readily soak up the coconut milk and syrup or gravy from the curries and become deliciously succulent.

The ingredient list for the batter is quite simple - mainly rice and coconut! Rice flour specially made for aapams are sold in Indian Markets and can be used instead of grinding the rice.

I like to store the freshly made batter overnight or for about 8 to 10 hours in the fridge to allow slow fermentation which develops a lovely flavor while still keeping the batter sweet - a secret I learned from baking bread :-). The batter must be allowed to ferment adequately to produce light and springy pancakes; if it is not, the result would be heavy and doughy pancakes.

6 - 8 Servings; about 24 aapams

Ingredients:

2 cups Rice, any type
1/2 cup fresh/frozen grated Coconut
1 tsp dry yeast dissolved in 2 Tbsp of water
1 cup fresh/canned thick Coconut milk
1 tsp Sea Salt

Thick coconut milk, chilled and molasses or maple syrup to serve
Stew or Ishtu to serve
Chole, Kadala (Chana) Masala, or Mung Beans to serve

Method:


Wash rice and soak in fresh water to cover for a few hours or overnight; drain, rinse with fresh water, and grind along with the coconut and salt (if you are breaking a coconut, save the water and use for grinding the batter) into a smooth paste using just enough water to make grinding feasible.

Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tablespoons of water and stir into the rice batter until mixed well. Allow the batter to stand in a large covered container until risen, about 4 to 6 hours - the batter will rise to double in volume. 

Before preparing pancakes, whisk the coconut milk into the risen batter until well combined. The batter should be easily pour-able; thinner than a regular pancake batter. Add a little water if necessary to thin the batter to the right consistency.

Prepare the pan for cooking the pancakes; very lightly oil a small kadai or a skillet and heat it until a flick of water sizzles.  No additional oil is necessary for cooking the aapams since there is enough fat in the batter from the coconut and coconut milk.

Make small pancakes using about 1/3 cup of batter; swirl the pan gently to produce a thin border, cover, and cook for about a minute on low heat.  Cook a few seconds longer if you like the bottoms and the edges to become crisp. Aappams do not need to be flipped; the steam cooks it completely.

When the aapams are cooked, they will have changed color and become a bit shiny. Use a thin spatula to remove them from the pan; place them right side up on a plate or parchment lined baking sheet.

Proceed to prepare more pancakes as needed with the rest of the batter.  If the pan gets a bit sticky, use a paper towel lightly dipped in oil to wipe the pan clean.

Any leftover batter should be promptly refrigerated; it will last for about a week well chilled.

Serve hot with the suggested toppings or your favorite sides and curries. Enjoy!!

 
Aapams with Stew & Sweet Coconut milk

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Simple Korma (Tangy Vegetable Stew With Coconut)

Simple Korma is a very versatile stew that goes with almost any meal - serve it over cooked grains like rice, couscous, quinoa, bulgar, etc., or with roti, dosas, idlis, aapams, upma, sevai (rice sticks/noodles), etc. Tomatoes add a little tang and color to the otherwise sweetly flavored mild korma. Many different veggies may be used singly or in a combination that you prefer. Zucchini, sweet & regular potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, yellow or chayote squash, and other summer as well as winter squashes will work quite well.  

Cucumber-Lauki Korma
Ingredients:

1 medium Zucchini
2 or 3 small to medium Cucumbers
1 small Lauki (Opo Squash)
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Coconut
1 tsp uncooked rice
1 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Tomatoes, cut into quarters
1-2 Hot Green or Red Chiles
1/4 cup Coconut Milk (optional)
2 stems Fresh Curry Leaves
1 tsp Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

Method:

Grind the coconut, rice, cumin seeds, and chiles if using, together until smooth adding small quantities of water as needed using a blender.  Add the tomatoes and process until coarsely pureed.

Cut all the veggies into small cubes; keep them separately as each has different cooking times. General rule of thumb is to start cooking the veggie that needs the longest cooking time and add the rest one by one.

Place the lauki cubes in a pan with a small amount of water (about 1/3 cup), turmeric, and salt; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a little more boiling water as necessary to prevent burning or drying out.

Add the cucumbers to the pan and continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Stir in the ground coconut and bring to a good rolling boil; stir in the zucchini and coconut milk if using, bring back to a boil, and turn off heat.

Crush the curry leaves in your hand and place them on top of the korma, drizzle the coconut oil over them, cover the korma, and set aside for a few minutes.

Stir the korma well and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Sweet Potato Stew (Ishtu With Coconut Milk & Sweet Spices)

Sweet Potato stew is sweetly spiced with Indian cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves.  It is the perfect companion for Aapams, the spongy rice pancakes delicately flavored with coconut milk. It is good with rice, dosas, idli, or breads as well. I like using a combination of both the pale colored and the orange sweet potatoes for this stew. Other veggies that are delicious additions are, tender green beans, chayote squash, parsnips, and other tender summer squash.  Another delicious veggie I love to include is fresh fennel bulbs - they add a delicate yet delectable flavor to the stew.

As always, when using whole green chiles, please be careful to fish them out of the stew and discard before serving so that no unsuspecting victim accidentally chews on them thinking they are green beans! You may like to fish out the whole spices and herbs - cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf - as well.

Sweet Potato Stew
Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 one-inch piece Indian Cinnamon bark
1 Whole green Cardamom, crushed
3-5 whole Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
5 thin slices fresh Ginger
2 Hot green Chiles, ends slit
1 large Onion
1 large Carrot
3-5 Assorted Sweet Potatoes
1 cup Corn, fresh or frozen
2 medium Zucchini
1 cup Edamame (green soy beans) OR peas, fresh/frozen
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 can Coconut Milk
2 stems fresh Curry Leaves
1 tsp Coconut Oil

Method:


Heat the oil in a large pan; add cardamom, cloves, cinnamon.  Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.

Add the ginger, bay leaf, and green chile; stir for a minute and then add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cover and cook stirring often until onions are translucent and begin to color slightly.

Stir in the carrots and cook for a minute.

Add about 2 cups of water along with 1/2 cup of the coconut milk and bring to a boil.

Stir in the sweet potatoes and corn, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Stir in the edamame or peas, bring the stew back to a boil.

Mash a few of the sweet potato pieces with the back of the spoon.

Add the zucchini with the rest of the coconut milk, stir well, and bring the stew back to a boil again.

Remove from heat, add the crushed curry leaves, drizzle with the coconut oil and leave covered for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir well, and serve hot. Enjoy!!

Stew with Aapams

Friday, September 6, 2013

Super & Delicious Foods to Live By

A friend sent me a list of some super foods that we often overlook but should incorporate into our daily meals; you don't have to eat all of them every single day but include them as often as you can. I have added a few of my own to the list. Check out the following good for you as well as good tasting foods with suggestions on how to include them in your diet. Enjoy!!
  1. ARTICHOKES: Low in calories, high in fiber, artichokes are an anti-oxidant food and also good sources of many vitamins and minerals. Try them whole steamed, the hearts in salads, stir-fry, risotto, and dips.
  2. AVOCADO: Amazingly delicious, creamy and smooth, avocados are anti-inflammatory and a fantastic source of fiber, beneficial fats, carotenoids, Vitamins B5, K, & C, and easily digestible protein.  Serve them in the shell, in salads, dips, sandwiches. Try guacamole or avocado salsa - yum!
  3. BARLEY: A wonderful grain highly prized for its many qualities, it has been eaten by humans since antiquity. Enjoy in salads, pongal, risotto, soups, & breads.
  4. BEETS: Think of beets as red spinach :); they are a rich source of folate as well as natural red pigments that may be cancer fighters. Enjoy fresh, raw, grated in a salad as heating decreases the antioxidant power. For cooked dishes, see Thoran, Bruschetta or this super snack.
  5. BERRIES (fresh and frozen): Berries pack a lot in little packages. Although blueberries lead with their high content of antioxidants, other berries also are good sources of antioxidants and phytonutrients. Even though freezing can degrade some of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables, frozen blueberries are available year-round; they are associated with better memory in animal studies. Eat them plain, with cereal, in baked goods, in desserts, blended with yogurt for delicious lassi, in smoothies, or in a berry sauce for pancakes.
  6. CABBAGE (Red and Green): Loaded with nutrients like sulforaphane, a chemical said to boost cancer-fighting enzymes, cabbages also have other abundant plant compounds that function as protective, preventative and therapeutic. Enjoy as Thoran, Kofte, Red cabbage salad, Curtido, or plain shredded to add crunch to any foods such as a topping for tostadas, burgers and sandwiches in place of nutrient-poor iceberg lettuce.
  7. DRIED BEANS: Beans are so versatile in so many ways, - eat them as snacks, salads, soups, dips, etc, etc. This blog is full of bean recipes;  try hummus or white bean dip, sprout salad, pancakes, Greek bean soup, Chole (Garbanzo stew), spicy bean stew, Rajma (Kidney Bean stew), Black bean salad, etc.
  8. DRIED PLUMS: Oh alright, so they are called prunes :), but they really are delicious and come packed with antioxidants. Enjoy them plain, mixed with other fruits and nuts, or stewed; dried plum and berry sauce makes a splendid topping for pancakes and ice cream.
  9. KIWI: These little packages are high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and fiber. It is perhaps one of the highest sources of Vitamin E among fruits. Delicious by itself, in salads or desserts.
  10. NUTS: With high protein content, antioxidants, Omega-3 oils, high fiber, and good taste, nuts have a place in our daily diets albeit in controlled portions. Whether eating almonds, walnuts, pecans or pistachios, one ounce or a fist-full is a good serving. Studies show that they lower cholesterol and promote weight control. Try almond butter, pesto, Muesli, thyme scented nibbles, ras malai, etc.
  11. Pomegranate: Loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin C; lower blood pressure. Just eat them fresh, add the beautiful sparkling arils to salads, as a lovely and delicious garnish for Yogurt Rice
  12. Pumpkins & Winter Squashes: A filling, low-calorie vegetable that is high in fiber and immune-stimulating vitamin A. Even the canned pumpkin is acceptable if you cannot do the fresh. Enjoy in dishes like Chowder, Thogayal, Stews, Soups, Pudding and Pies. Or simply serve cooked pumpkin/squash with a little Earth balance/butter, cinnamon and nutmeg - do include the nutmeg; it does make the dish :).
  13. Pumpkin seeds: They are the most nutritious part of the pumpkin and packed with magnesium; high levels of this mineral are associated with lower risk for early death. Roast lightly to serve as a snack, sprinkle on salads or baked goods or use in pesto.
  14. Purslane: Has the highest amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fats of any edible plant, according to researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The scientists also report that this herb has 10 to 20 times more melatonin -- an antioxidant that may inhibit cancer growth -- than any other fruit or vegetable tested. Although the FDA classifies purslane as a broad-leaved weed, it's a popular vegetable and herb in many countries - India, China, Mexico, and Greece, Turkey, etc. Look for it at your local farmer's market, or Chinese or Mexican market under the name of "verdolaga". Enjoy purslane in a salad as a great alternative or addition to lettuce: the leaves and stems are crisp, chewy, and succulent, and they have a mild lemony taste. It can also be cooked like spinach; add to soups, molakootal, stew.
  15. Quinoa: An ancient grain with high protein and fiber, it is naturally high in iron also. It is also a good source of Zinc, Vitamin E and Selenium and is good for weight control and lowering risks of heart disease and diabetes. Use it in place of rice or other grains; try it in Quinoa Soup.
  16. SPICES: Spices have been used since antiquity to ensure good health; I believe that Indian cuisine evolved over eons to include daily doses of most beneficial spices. One such spice is turmeric; it is the "superstar of spices" with its anti-inflammatory, anti-Alzheimer's, and anti-cancer properties. Get your daily quota of turmeric by adding a couple of pinches to veggies, grains, soups and stews; it is ever present in most Indian dishes.
  17. SWEET POTATO: A leading source of Vitamin A and packed with Vitamin C, Calcium and Potassium, it is a no-brainer to substitute this tasty tuber (especially the orange-fleshed kind) for the regular potato; sweet potatoes are delicious just by themselves without all the added calories of butter or sour cream. They are delicious roasted/baked, in soups, pancakescountry-style, casseroles and pies. I love to grow sweet potatoes for their equally nutritious and beautiful leaves.
  18. SWISS CHARD: A leafy green vegetable packed with carotenoids that protect aging eyes. Chop and saute in olive oil to serve as a vegetable (fabulous as a topping for a bruschetta) or use like you would spinach. Delicious in molakootal, kuzhambu, thoran, soups, etc.
  19. TOMATOES: Rich in lycopene - essential for eye health, Vitamins A, B, & C. Tomatoes are anti-inflammatory and ward off certain cancers, heart disease, free radical damage. Enjoy these wonderful low calorie food simply sliced or in curriessalads, soups, chutneys, and salsas.
  20. WHOLE GRAINS: Rich in B vitamins, vitamin E, fiber, iron, antioxidants, and minerals; reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.  Three servings daily has been shown to be beneficial.  Whole grain pasta, breads, flours, whole grain oatmeal and cornmeal, brown rice, etc. can replace their highly processed counterparts. Try chapatis, Tabbouleh, Dosa pancakes, scones, Oats Pongal, Risotto, etc.